The Orphanage Shop, near the Old Fort, sells crafts and paintings by local artists and the orphans themselves, plus bolts of brightly coloured fabric, which the in-house tailor can make up to your own design.
Two of the best souvenirs to bring home from Zanzibar are: Kangas and Kikois - the brightly patterned fabrics worn by local women and men respectively are used by locals as a matching skirt and head covering, or in the case of men a casual alternative to trousers. For tourists, they make an excellent souvenir and can be used as a bath towel, beach wrap or sarong. For ideas on how to wear your kanga, along with a few cheeky cartoons, look for the Krazy Kanga Book by Pascal Bogaert, on sale in the Zanzibar Gallery.
Bao games - Bao is played on street corners and in village squares across the whole of East Africa, with regional variations. It consists of a carved wooden board, with rows of largish holes, into which seeds are dropped, functioning as both counters and dice. It's surprisingly easy to pick up and very addictive. Bao boards come in all shapes and sizes, from small folding ones ideal for rucksacks, to huge, ornate antique boards which double as tables. Be sure to buy some spare seeds at the same time as they have a habit of getting lost.
Zanzibar Chests - Arab-style wooden chests inlaid with brightly polished brass are hand-carved in many workshops in Zanzibar and come in all sizes, from tiny jewellery boxes to enormous trunks.
Beware of buying large polished shells, lumps of coral or tortoiseshell products in Stone Town or on the beach. Their collection and sale is illegal, and many of the species they derive from are already endangered.
Zanzibar do's and don'ts
Zanzibar on the Web
Copyright © Gemma Pitcher 2004